So I mentioned in my last post that I got a bunch of organic pears at a great price and besides dehydrating some into pear chips, it was a perfect excuse to finally buy a canner and get into the world of food preservation through home canning.
I wanted to make pear butter, at least some…but it didn’t happen. Next time! Instead, I just canned the pears in quarters. Figured I’d go simpler the first time around.
My awesome friend came over to help me can. This girl grew up on a farm with tons of chickens, goats, and who knows what else, and would spend entire weekends canning all sorts of things with the whole family…like aunts and cousins would come over and they’d have several canners going at once. Madness, I tell ya. I knew about absolutely none of that growing up in South Florida.
Anyway, whether it was having my friend over or beginner’s luck, I’m happy to announce that I had absolutely zero issues with the whole process. Hooray!
Hold on, before I continue..! This is my new toy (eek!!)
I’m an uber nerd, I know. Okay, back to business.
To begin, I washed all my pears and peeled them, sliced ‘em in half, scooped out the core with a tablespoon, and cut in half again to make quartered spears. I kept all the peels and cores in a bowl and placed them all in the fridge when done. I did blanch some of them to try that method. I just placed the entire pear in boiling water for maybe 30 seconds and then transferred to an ice bath. The peels just rubbed right off…pretty cool! But I noticed the outsides would be pretty oxidized and I found myself peeling some of it off anyway, so I didn’t think it was worth the extra step. I actually don’t mind peeling. Just like the pear slices for pear chips, all the pear quarters went into a bowl filled with water and lime juice to prevent oxidation.
Once all my pears were ready, I started filling jars. One by one, I grabbed a hot, sanitized mason jar fresh out of the dishwasher and packed it with pears. I added some light syrup that was hot from the stovetop, let out the air bubbles by running a small spatula down the sides, and made sure my jars were nice and full and had at least ½” headspace, if not a little more.
Once all the jars were filled, we turned the heat on high and waited for the pressure in the canner to get to 6 lbs, then let is process for 10 mins. Once the pressure was back down to zero after shutting off the heat, we took the jars out and placed them on a towel and folded the towel over to cover and let cool for 24 hours. We had zero mess in the canner…no broken jars, no syrup or pear residue anywhere, yay!
Little by little, I heard the lids sealing. The next day, I took off the rings and made sure the jars and rims were clean. As I was wiping one…the lid popped off. Into the fridge it went. Luckily it was the only one that didn’t get a good seal. The rest are in the pantry looking pretty…and pink! Lol. Apparently it’s totally normal, so that’s good news. Luckily I read a ton of pear articles beforehand and already knew this, or else I would’ve been slightly freaked out, haha.
So now I wasn’t just about to throw away all these pear scraps! I threw them in a pot and filled with just enough water to cover. I brought them to a boil and let them simmer for 30 minutes. Next time, I will add a cinnamon stick and a few cloves. I wish I thought of this while I was doing it…grr!
Once it was all nice and simmered, I strained the pear juice through my nut milk bag and placed it back in the pot. I followed the instructions for jelly from fruit juice using Pomona’s Universal Pectin. I love this stuff! It gels with very low amounts of almost any sweetener (even honey) instead of absurd amounts of sugar. One recipe for pear jelly I read online using regular pectin called for 3.5 cups of sugar per 4 cups of juice. HOLY SMOKES!! I used 6 cups of juice and only added 1 1/3 cups of sucanat (dehydrated cane juice). That’s a little more like it…good grief!
Then, I mixed some lemon juice into my 6 cups of pear juice, added 6 teaspoons of calcium water (comes with the pectin), and once it was at a full boil, I added the mixture of sucanat sweetener with the pectin powder. I whisked vigorously while it returned to a full boil for a couple minutes and ladled into jars. This time, I placed them in a water bath and processed for 10 minutes. Voila!
I left one jar in the fridge to use right away. It turned out beautifully! Great texture and so delicious, not too sweet. Perfect with cheese and crackers, or mixed in yogurt, or by the spoonful…whatever floats your boat 😉